By Jerry Shull
Billy Graham held one of his famous crusades in Indianapolis, Indiana, June 3-6, 1999.
He is a very charismatic person with a great delivery of his words and a charmer of millions; however, his message of “go to the church of your choice” is in direct violation of the message from God.
The Scriptures teach that Christ is the founder of only one church — his church (Matt. 16:18). From the Louisville, KY, Courier Journal, June 4, 1999:
50,000 people attended the crusade on June 3, 1999. There was a 4,000 member choir. Using the Columbine High School tragedy as an example that no one knows when life will end, Graham urged his listeners to repent, seek God and have eternal security.
An estimated 3,000 people — some crying — had come up toward the podium to pray with counselors. Throughout his message, Graham focused on repentance and turning to Jesus Christ. Graham said, “Have you really opened your heart and life to Christ? Not only as savior, but Lord.” Graham asked the huge crowd, “You better decide for Christ now because you never know when your moment is coming. You are a walking dead person now if you don’t know Christ.”
On Sunday, June 6, the last day of the crusade, Graham said, “You don’t know when your moment is coming. It may come tonight.”
And with that he invited people to come down from the stands and gather in front of the stage, where counselors gave them packets of information and arranged to connect them with local churches. (Quite a contrast to what Peter told the multitude on the day of Pentecost when they asked, “What shall we do?” Peter responded, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” — Acts 2:38, JS)
An estimated 2500 people answered that call joining more than 12,000 others who had done so during the previous three days” (Read Matt. 7:21, JS).
Once Graham leaves Indy, he’ll pass the torch to area churches. The Rev. Russ Blowers, honorary chairman of the Indiana crusade, said local churches will minister to those called to God with the help of Graham’s organization. ‘He works hand in glove with the local churches,’ Blowers said.”
Graham Crusade Stresses Follow-up
Local churches and counselors will stay in contact with the 15,328 people who came forward during the crusade to “make decisions for Christ” — either by making a commitment to become a Christian or by renewing their commitment to their faith.
“As counselors, we keep the information on people we talked with. After a few weeks go by, we will be in touch to see if they have any questions,” said Bill Everhart, a crusade volunteer from Seymour (IN).
Within a day, Graham’s evangelistic association sent an encouragement letter to each of these people, and the person’s name was forwarded to his or her church. If the person didn’t attend a church, one that was involved (there were over 200 different denominations involved) in the crusade was given the information.
Graham’s organization also will refer new believers to a three-month Bible study program involving churches that participated in the crusade. (Sad to say this Bible study cannot include Acts 2; John 17:20-21; 1 Cor. 1:10; Eph. 4:4-6; Col. 1:18; Eph. 5:23-29; Eph. 1:22-23; and many more, JS.)
The crusade drew 193,500 people to four services and a program for children. Officials also said they raised more than $2.5 million needed to stage the event, though final financial figures were not released. (Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 16:2, “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him”, JS.)
It seems that Mr. Graham omitted baptism, but since baptism is “for the remission of sins,” how can he possibly ignore it (Acts 2:38; 22:16)? Jesus said, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16). Baptism is one of the conditions with which one must comply in order to be saved in Christ (John 3:3-5; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
The Holy Spirit revealed in Acts 2:41, “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized.” “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47). They did not have to wait three weeks for some counselor to tell them what church to go to; there was, and still is, only one church, the church the Lord died for, the church of Christ!
Jesus, who has all authority in heaven and on earth, said “Upon this rock I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). Jesus did not say that he would build a church, his churches, or one of his churches. He said, “I will build my church.” Let me spell it: C-H-U-R-C-H — that is how many Jesus promised to build. Jesus also promises, “Every plant which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up” (Matt. 15:13).